We’ve all seen someone change their profile picture to a filter or frame that supports a certain cause. And with that, we’ve all seen someone complain about how changing your profile picture or sharing a post “does not actually make a difference.” Both sides of the argument are incredibly valid and both sides are, in a sense, right.
On one hand, it’s great to raise awareness and to support a cause. On the other hand, is this where your support should stop? Or should you be contributing to causes financially? Do you need to commit time, money and effort to make a noticeable change?
Perhaps when you last changed your profile picture, one of your friends saw the cause that you were supporting and decided to make a monetary donation. Does that redeem you and categorize you as someone who is part of the change? Or do you simply fall under the category of a “slacktivist” (an activist who does the bare minimum)? So many questions. So little answers.
In terms of moving this topic into the classroom, should teachers silently support causes they care about? Or should they be posting their beliefs on social media? In a 2015 article (In online spaces, silence speaks as loudly as words), Katia Hildebrandt touches on the idea that teachers have an obligation to post about, for example, “the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in Canada, or about the burning of Black churches in the southern United States.” These examples are meant to refer to important issues. Important social justice issues wherein there is a very clear and correct opinion. Racism is wrong. Abuse is wrong. The article states that as an educator, not speaking out (virtually) about these injustices demonstrates to students that they are okay and acceptable. As educators, it is our job to lead by example and to show students that we must take a stand for what is right.
Evidently, there are conditions and exceptions to everything. In this case, your school, your admin, your town, etc. all play important factors. Hildebrandt’s thoughts are very much dependent, in my opinion, on educators using their proper judgment to judge for themselves what, when, how, and where to post.
In an earlier article (What Kind of (Digital) Citizen?), Hildebrandt outlines that to be a good digital citizen, we must move past just personal responsibility (don’t say anything rude, don’t post something incriminating, don’t cyberbully, etc.) to more of a participatory attitude. We must not be hesitant, but rather, we must engage/promote justice online to be truly considered a good digital citizen.
Please comment below. Are you an online “Slacktivist” or do you believe that supporting causes means that you need to devote your time and your money? Do educators have a duty to engage with activism online? Or is that took risky given the backlash that could come from the school community? I want to hear what you have to say!